First, there is no connection between downtown Anniston and the beginning of the trail. The route is on a busy four-lane highway with little signage indicating the trail and no allowance for even an on-street bike trail. The second concern is really an Amtrak issue, but perhaps the city of Anniston could help.
Currently, there is no way of getting a bike on or off the train in Anniston. This is because Amtrak does not provide baggage handling at the Anniston station. I know many more bicyclists would ride the trail if they could go one-way on Amtrak. It’s particularly appealing because the train schedules coincide with a typical start or end time for a bike trip. One could leave Atlanta in the morning on the train, disembark in Anniston and then ride back to Atlanta. One could also ride to Anniston and then pick up the train in the late afternoon.
In fact, this is what my son and I did about five years ago before the trail was completed. We rode from Atlanta to Anniston, biked into downtown Anniston, picked up two bike boxes from the dumpster behind the bike shop and then rode over to the Amtrak station. Having transported my bike on Amtrak in many parts of the United States, I didn’t know that some stations wouldn’t accept bikes. Fortunately, the conductor took pity on us and we were allowed to put the bikes on ourselves for the ride to Atlanta. This, however, went against Amtrak policy.
A solution might be for the city, in cooperation with Amtrak, to provide a baggage handler for the Anniston station. In addition, a stock of used bike boxes, easily available from the bike shop, and a few simple tools for dismantling the bikes would make transporting bikes on Amtrak possible.
This is a great opportunity for the city of Anniston and for increased ridership on an Amtrak route that is currently underutilized.